There are a number of viable reasons why people choose to take their exercise to an outdoor environment and a large number of studies that advocate getting out and about and active in the fresh air. These days, almost a third of the world’s population is inactive (31.1% according to Global Physical Activity Level study) – this has come about through progressions in both the agricultural and industrial sectors, as well as the digital age that’s currently evolving in our work and private lives. Every second person is on their phone, sitting at a desk at a computer, ordering UberEats via an app and generally engaged in what would be classified as sedentary behaviour. To further compound this inactivity, most of these digital actions happen indoors! As a population, whilst we can applaud our advances in automation and technology we are certainly making it tough to get outside and get moving. This is reflected in the growing incidents of physical disability and disease, mental health issue and of course, our expanding waistlines!
For many people, moving their training outdoors reflects a need to get some fresh air, get outside of the office and return to nature. Some people find the gym environment intimidating, over-crowded, stuffy and just not for them. Navigating your way through free-weights, cardio machines, battling at the gym lockers and sharing showers might not appealing for everyone! For others, training outdoors can simply be an exercise preference – the strong cardiovascular aspect of running around outdoors can be attractive after sitting still at your desk all day, and then there are others that don’t particularly enjoy heavy strength training. The underlying implication that heavy strength training leads to “bulking-up”, can often be a motivator to get people out of the gym and into the fresh air. As personal trainers, of course we know that weights = bulk is a fallacy, however, it’s undeniable that it’s still a common thread in the general public perception.
There have been many scientific, researched backed studies that support and advocate training in an outdoor environment. The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise found “most trials showed an improvement in mental well-being: compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalisation, increased energy and positive engagement, together with decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression. Participants also reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and stated that they were more likely to repeat the activity at a later date” (The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, 2011)
Other reviews show people experience greater mental well-being immediately following exercise in nature which is not seen replicated when they perform the same exercise indoors – must be all the fresh air and sunshine!
So whether it’s a movement towards the great outdoors to improve mood, self-esteem and overall health, or a movement away from the computer and sedentary indoor lifestyle, it cannot be denied that Outdoor Training is on the rise. This Winter, get yourself outdoors and into the fresh air and reap the benefits!